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Final Thoughts: A Silent Voice

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It is has been over three years since Kyoto Animation released what is probably one of their greatest works since the studio’s founding in 1981. While maybe not the grandiose, love story spectacle that propelled “Your Name” to its spot as one of the best selling Japanese films of all time, “A Silent Voice” is not only an arguably better film, but one that carries a lot more weight in its subject matter. Here are my final thoughts.

The Story of A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice tells the story of Shoya Ishida and Shoko Nishimiya. While attempting to kill himself, Shoya recalls the days of his elementary school. During those times, he was happy, had plenty of friends, and almost no problems, that is, until Shoko Nishimiya transferred to his school. It wasn’t long, however, before Shoko’s deafness made her stand out among the elementary school kids. Soon enough everyone was bullying her, Shoya most predominantly, but with everyone more or less sitting back and laughing. Eventually, it gets so bad that her mom calls, prompting everyone to sell out Shoya as the only culprit, leaving him angry at Shoko. This all leads to Shoko leaving the school.

Fast forward back to the present. Shoya, now in high school, is alone with no friends. Feeling some level of guilt, he decides to try and reconnect with Shoko as a way of apologizing. From there, the two of them slowly build their relationship.


Hating That Which is Different

A Silent Voice’s central conflict comes from Shoya’s horrible past. At the beginning of the film, he feels so bad about his own life and the things he did to Shoko that he tries to kill himself, but stops at the last second. That horrible past, of course, was bullying Shoko because of her deafness. Because her hearing made it slightly inconvenient to communicate, the kids around her saw this as a reason to hate who she is.

Most important, the lesson to take from Shoya’s past is that the kind of hatred that treats people differently because of who they are is quite literally childish, and ultimately stems from an animalistic fear of that which people do not recognize.

On Redemption and Self-Hatred

Throughout the film, Shoya and Shoko approach their friendship from two very different places, but one that still leave them with self-hatred. Shoya sees his actions as a reason to not only reconnect with Shoko, but to keep himself isolated from others. In his view, the loneliness he feels after being shunned by his classmates is deserved. Part of this does come off as a bit of a martyr complex on Shoya’s end. He sees himself as the only person who should suffer, even though he knows that others also took part in bullying Shoko.

Shoko, on the other hand, almost seems to still hate Shoya for most of the movie. Now, this is understandable given that Shoya went out of his way to make her life horrible during elementary school. However, it is still really weird given the fact that she continues to hang out with him. This, combined her having romantic feelings for him likely created the turmoil which prompted her to attempt suicide.

Because both of them hold in these feelings of self-hatred for so long, it creates a toxic relationship that neither of them quite realize they are in until it is almost too late. Still, by the end of the film they understand each other enough to let these feelings go, which allows them to be true friends.

Sending the Wrong Message?

One thing that has been highlighted by writers and content creators much smarter than myself is the dynamics between characters and how they can reflect real life relationships. Someone who does really well is The Aficionado, so go check them out. As for A Silent Voice, its safe to say that the dynamics are a bit odd, at least for Shoko anyway. Having a former bully come back into your life wanting to be friends can be a bit awkward to say the least, and is, again, part of the reason why she attempted suicide. Now, its true that in the end the two do end up casting aside their guilt, but it is worth thinking about whether or not sending the message of accepting your abuser back into your life is a good thing.

Good Writing Things That are Good

There are always a few things that good stories do to set themselves apart from other good stories, to show that they are willing to go above and beyond in order to make the best moments even better. One such great moment is near the end of the film, when Shoko tells Shoya she is going to go home and study. Now, this alone makes it somewhat suspicious, but the film adds to this foreshadowing when Shoko, instead of signing see you later instead signs what I presume was simply goodbye. Then, when Shoya goes back to the apartment shortly after to get Yuzuru’s camera, he almost immediately recognizes what Shoko is going to do because he was planning on doing the same thing.

Another one of these moments is actually a fusion of writing and animation. In order to visually represent Shoya’s fear of connecting with and looking at other people, the film uses giant blue X’s which appear on the faces of those he either does not know or is scared to talk to. While it is not particularly complex, it does add to the overall presentation in a way that makes for more emotional scenes, like in the final moments of the film where Shoya overcomes his guilt and is finally able to see everyone for who they are, and so all the blue X’s that were covering his classmates faces then disappear.


The Animation

There is not much to say about A Silent Voice’s animation other than that it is amazing. While it is true that the film is not action heavy like some of Kyoto Animation’s other projects such as Beyond the Boundary, there is still a lot of care put into the film’s animation. I already mention the blue X’s, but one other part that stands out is the character designs. Something that lesser anime projects can often suffer from are lackluster character designs that don’t inspire many to remember any of the characters. However, A Silent Voice has no problem with this whatsoever, and the character designs are noticeable improvement over the manga.

The Dub

As I re-watched the movie on Netflix for this post, I decided it would be a good idea to give the dub a try, since I had never heard it before. Luckily, the dub manages to deliver in spades. Each of the actors did a great job portraying their characters and made them all feel unique. Some of the best performances came from Robbie Daymond and Lexi Cowden, who voiced Shoya and Shoko respectively.


A Silent Voice is maybe not among my personal favorites, but it is a film that accomplishes everything that it sets out to do. Not only does it talk about important subject matter, but manages to do so with one of the most beautiful presentations in recent memory. It is almost guaranteed to live one in the hearts of those who choose to watch it.

How do you all feel about A Silent Voice? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!


First Impressions: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

After putting up my What Else Should You Watch: Doctor Stone post a few weeks ago, I again thought about the kinds of posts how I have not done in a while, and I settled on a first impressions, if for nothing else than because its kind of an easier one to write while I am dealing with end of the semester stuff. For this first impressions, I am taking a look at a show that was put on Netflix only recently, but has been given a lot of critical acclaim for a while, that being Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans

Iron-Blooded Orphans, like many of its Gundam counterparts, takes place in a world after great destruction. In its case, the Calamity War, a battle between earth and its outer colonies in space, ended in the division of earth into four separate economic blocks. Mars, meanwhile, is in deplorable conditions, and its people are quickly signing on to the idea of Independence from Earth. Kudelia Bernstein, an aristocrat representing the independence movement, decides to enlist the help of the CGS, a local military branch. However, her sense of security is somewhat short-lived, as Gjallarhorn, the organization responsible for keeping peace in the universe, attempts to assassinate her. Despite the attempt, Mikazuki Angus and Orga Itsuka, along with many other child soldiers working under the organization, pull together to help defend her.

Now, I will get this out of the way upfront: I am in no way an expert on Gundam, so what I say after this point is going to apply to this series only. I do not want to generalize to much and then have Scott tell me I am wrong. Anyway, onto the rest of it.

After watching three episodes of Iron-Blooded Orphans, I can say for sure that the series is not boring. While it sticks to a lot of science fiction convention, even from the first couple of episodes it has an extremely ambitious vision of the story it wants to tell. One of the good parts about it right of the bat is its main characters, Mikazuki and Orga. The first scene of the first episode shows the two of them struggling to survive, even having to kill someone to do so. The desperation of their situation becomes immediately apparent, and so its makes sense why they ended up joining a military organization, even as kids. Another important thing that first scene shows is the dynamic between the two of them. Mikazuki is very much someone who will whatever Orga asks him to, even killing someone. This kind of dynamic is both immediately concerning, and also hints at what might come later on.


The story also alludes to a lot of other important themes early on, such as poverty. Orga, Mikazuki, along with many of the other kids at CGS, came from desperate situations where they were on the brink of dying in the streets. To escape this suffering, they did what they thought they had to and joined the military, if for nothing else than the basics of food, water, and shelter.

For as much as I try and put my own taste aside when talking about the artistic merit of a series, it is not always easy, and while I have enjoyed certain mecha series in the past it is not a genre that generally peeks my interest. I mainly took a look at Iron-Blooded Orphans as a way to test my own waters, so to speak. However, as it turns out, I am still not much of a fan of the idea of giants robots slamming each other into the dust, at least not under normal circumstances.

One thing that is worthy of criticism outside of personal preference though are the character designs. Specifically, the way the character designs clash with the feel of the story being told. Iron-Blooded Orphans is clearly trying to show us the gritty reality of its main characters, from murder, to betrayal, it wants to capture all of the feelings and actions involved with life at war. Which is why it is strange that the characters all still look like they are supposed to be in a shounen series. I would say that normally this does not bother me as much, but Iron-Blooded Orphans is aggressive in how much it wants to be taken seriously, and so the clash is much more noticeable.

Suffice it to say that I will likely not continue the series, or if I do it might just be a few more episodes. While there is probably a lot of good left to be found in the show, it frankly just does not appeal to me much and the clash between its characters design and its tone will probably throw me off the whole way through.

How do you all feel about Iron-Blooded Orphans? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!